If you’re a glass-half-full type, even you are going to struggle with Odell Beckham Jr.’s first game as a Los Angeles Ram.
He didn’t get hurt. So there’s that.
Beckham barely played in the Rams’ 31-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, which is somewhat understandable given that he had only a spare few practice snaps with the starting offense since he signed as a free agent. Yet, it was remarkable that in a game where Los Angeles was cranked into passing mode and consistently utilizing three and four-wide receiver sets, a longtime veteran like Beckham was basically on the bench from early in the second quarter on.
He ended up catching two passes for 18 yards on three targets.
Unfortunately for Beckham and Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, that first failed target was by far their most memorable moment, with Beckham cutting a route short on an improvised play and Stafford throwing a deep (and ill-advised) pass that was intercepted. It appeared to be a case of miscommunication between two players who have almost zero practice time in the books.
It was a forgettable start for Beckham, likely ending the most aggressive form of speculation around him, which had visions of the Randy Moss career reboot in New England. For the record, Moss caught all nine of the balls thrown his way during his Patriots debut, racking up 183 yards and a touchdown. He also had Tom Brady throwing to him and had the offseason and training camp to acclimate in New England’s offense. Beckham has none of that, which makes the visions of Beckham achieving a Moss-type rebirth all the more absurd.
Really, if there’s anything we learned in one game, it’s that the long-enduring laws of the NFL are actually more concrete than the wispy hopes and dreams about what a formerly great player might achieve if he could only change his scenery. In reality, it takes time for players to get used to their new surroundings. Even talented ones. And this is most especially true in the regular season, when most of the oxygen is sucked up preparing for the next opponent rather than teaching offensive nuances or gaining chemistry with a quarterback.
The Rams might need to be more concerned about Stafford than Beckham, especially given that he has lost his second-best offensive target in Robert Woods and now put up consecutive flops in prime time — first with two atrocious mistakes in a 28-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 7, and then his worst game of the season against the 49ers.
Stafford wasn’t entirely at fault. He threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, but it was completely the fault of tight end Tyler Higbee for blowing the catch. And a stretching-argument could be made that his first interception would have at least been a 50-50 ball if Beckham hadn’t stopped on his route.
Whatever the case, it was a terrible night for the Rams and a completely forgettable start for Beckham. But going back to that whole glass-half-full perspective, at least the bye is here for Los Angeles. The franchise and its newest offensive weapons appear to badly need it.